Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, March 1, 2018. Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the federal government has reached millions of young Canadians through various, intensive public education campaigns aimed at informing them about the health and safety risks of using cannabis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Federal campaigns have educated millions of youths about dangers of pot: minister

Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the federal government has reached millions of young Canadians

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the federal government has reached millions of young Canadians through various, intensive public education campaigns aimed at informing them about the health and safety risks of using cannabis.

The lack of a visible, national public awareness campaign is among the top concerns of senators who are currently studying the bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

But if senators haven’t seen the campaigns, Petitpas Taylor says that’s because they’re not aimed at people in their age group; they’re aimed at youths who are considered the most vulnerable to the potential adverse health impacts of cannabis use.

And that means the campaigns are showing up on social media platforms and web banners, not primarily on television or radio.

Related: Medical pot grower says politicians’ fears unfounded

Petitpas Taylor says one program, started last year and targeting 13- to 24-year-olds, has reached 7.9 million young people through social media, and web banners have been seen 47 million times.

Moreover, she says a public safety campaign to discourage drug-impaired driving, targeting youths through Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Youtube, Chatbox and other social media platforms, has been seen 64 million times.

As well, signs warning against driving high have also been placed in 210 cinemas across the country.

“We’re going to great lengths to ensure that accurate information is being delivered to young people,” Petitpas Taylor told the Senate’s social affairs committee Wednesday.

In addition to targeting youths, she said Health Canada has been conducting an education campaign targeting parents, running ads on social media, television and radio. And the department has partnered with Drug Free Kids Canada to distribute more than 180,000 “Cannabis Talk” kits to help parents discuss the issue with their children.

“I am confident that our comprehensive public awareness campaign will increase Canadians’ understanding of the facts on cannabis and will ultimately protect their health and safety.”

Related: Marijuana legalization passes in House of Commons

But not all senators seemed reassured.

“Nowhere have I seen evidence of how this particular age group, 18-25, will be protected and kept well-informed,” commented independent Sen. Chantal Petitclerc at one point.

Conservative Sen. Nancy Greene Raine said by legalizing marijuana, the government is sending “a very strong message to young people that it’s OK.”

And fellow Conservative Sen. Vern White questioned how the government can say it’s trying to discourage cannabis use among young people when the bill would allow their parents to grow up to four plants in their home, where it would be easily accessible to kids.

However, Petitpas Taylor argued that Canadian youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are already “among the highest users of cannabis in the world.” The objective of legalization is to regulate it and make it harder for young people to get their hands on it.

Liberal MP Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who is the Liberal government’s point man on cannabis legalization, told the committee that educating parents who intend to grow their own pot will also be important.

“Frankly, any parent has a responsibility to protect their children from anything, from the medicine cabinet, from anything that can cause them harm,” he said, noting that the main source of alcohol for underage kids is “swiping it out of their father’s liquor cabinet.”

Related: B.C. Conservatives demand pot rules

Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Summer from hell’: vandals rob community garden following devastating wildfire season

The community rallied to keep the Health Minds Community Garden open in Fort St. James

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Decision on Burns Lake’s workforce camp “pending very soon”: Coastal GasLink

Meetings to discuss new camp location postponed due to wildfire situation

B.C. parents leery of HPV cervical cancer vaccine

Provincial registration uptake among lowest in Canada

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read